Chris Cruise, a longtime head coach of Iowa swimming powerhouse Cedar Rapids Washington High School, died at 53 years old on Thursday after being diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer last month.
Cruise swam at Cedar Rapids Washington in the late 1980s, winning two individual state titles and three state championships as a team from 1987-89 under head coach Jim Voss. He went on to join Voss’ coaching staff and replace him as head boys’ swimming coach in 1998 following a collegiate career at Northwestern.
“He was always dependable and committed to his goals but more so to the team goals,” Voss told the Cedar Rapids Gazette. “Chris was instrumental in the success of the Warrior swim program.”
Cruise guided the Cedar Rapids Washington boys to another state title as a coach in 2008, giving them a total of 27 championships — more than any other boys’ program in Iowa. The team won 53 district championships in a row until having the streak snapped in 2017. He retired in 2018 after more than two decades at the helm of the Cedar Rapids Washington boys’ program, but he remained at the school as an assistant activities director and part-time math teacher.
“He always taught me and so many other people to strive to always get better and to work hard,” said Matt Sinnott, who swam for Cruise and later took over the boys’ program when he retired two years ago. “I am the better teacher and coach because of his guidance and mentoring.”
Cruise is survived by his wife, Kimberly, and his two sons, Conner and Tyler. A celebration of life is scheduled for Oct. 7.